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Round 5 report
Sunday, 22 July 2012
round5.jpgThe 5th round in the Women’s Grand Prix tournament is history.  The Chinese star Ju Wenjun continues to lead with four points out of five.

The game between Kosintseva-Mkrtchian had its share of surprises.  After the opening, black not only equalized but earned a pleasant position.  And when white acted to turn the tide with some creative attempts, black was up to the task, responding to gain a decisive advantage.

18.Nb5?! (This concept initiated by white, only serves to help black, as she is able to conduct the maneuver Nc8 and exchange knights.  More precise would be 18.f5 or 18.Rf3.) A few moves later Mkrtchian had successfully neutralized all of her opponents threats and after attacking the weaknesses in white’s camp, earned her second victory in a row.

An interesting struggle was witnessed in the game between Hou Yifan – Khurtsidze.  In fact, black was able to claim equality after the opening phase of the game, however at a critical point they missed a good continuation.


16...Kh8?! (16...ef 17.Bh6 g6 18.Bf8 Kf8 and black has no problems.) At a few subsequent junctures, black played some inferior moves and her opponent took full advantage, turning up the pressure and eventually secured the win.

The clash between Kovalevskaya-Wenjun saw white generate a positional plus out of the opening.  The tournament leader, however, responded with strong defensive moves.  At one point, white was presented with an opportunity to attempt to go for a sharper and more pressing line, but in mutual time trouble, she missed it.


34.Kg2? (34.b4!! ab 35.a5 and white is winning).
This was perhaps the only winning chance, after which the two sides fought on, exchanged a few pieces, and eventually agreed to the draw.

The opponents Lahno-Munguntuul came out of the opening in an even position, though at one point, white had a chance to generate some advantage.


23.Rd1? (23.Be3! and white would have a positional plus.  In the game, black was able to respond with 23…Bd6, after which white had to exchange bishops, a simplification in black’s favor.) Later, white slipped, opening the door for black to wrest the initiative.


26.f3?? Ng3 27.e3 Nh5? (27…f4! after which black’s advantage would be significant.)
Lahno was happy to see the inaccuracy returned and after a few more moves, the opponents signed the truce ad a draw was agreed.

In the match between Danielian-Zhao Xue, white must have been quite pleased to emerge from the opening with a significant advantage.  She continued to push further still, and as early as move 16 could have transformed the advantage into a decisive one, but missed the tactical chance.


16.h5? (16.Nf7!! Kf7 17.Nd5 Bd5 (or17... ed) 18.Rg7 Ke8 19.Bf6 and white is practically winning.)
As the game evolved, white was constantly threatening, and it appeared that it would only be a matter of time before black’s defenses would be overcome.  On move 32, it seemed that the end was in fact near, but once again, white missed the decisive continuation.


32.Bd6? (32.Ra8 Kd7 33.Nh7! +-)
Evidently, it must have been fate that decided that Elina was not to win today, and after a long struggle (which by now, in an even position) the game ended in a draw.

Ruan Lufei – Koneru saw the opponents come out of the opening phase with an equal position.  At some point, black could have opted for a sharper continuation, but instead chose a safer line.


17...h6 (possible was 17...c5!? 18.Bf6 Nf6 19.Nb5 Qb6 20.Nd6 Ne4 21.bc Qa7 22.Re4 Be4 23.Ng5 Qa2 24.Nge4 =).

The opponents subsequently matched each other’s effort, and after a three-fold repetition, the point was shared.

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